Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lawn Care

Most people really have no concept of what it takes to make a video game. Sure, there are the obvious, external things like the character models, soundtrack, and the esoteric "programming" that runs under the hood. But we take everything else for granted... like gravity. Or the fact that two "solid" objects have to be programmed not to go through each other (which they often do anyway).

Hmm, something looks wrong...

I think the first time I truly realized how complicated video games are was watching K play Oblivion back during our dating phase. Using his top secret special knowledge of the way a mountain’s polygons were laid out, he made his character jump to uncharacteristically high heights and scale the “you’re not supposed to climb this” peak. It was like Neo bending the rules of the Matrix! Woah...

Another example of K’s “behind the scenes” lessons included digital gardening. Ever noticed that the scenery in the distance looks fairly dull and un-textured, but as soon as you walk toward it, mounds of deliciously detailed grass blades spout in a 5 meter radius around your feet? Fill rate management, my dear. Since consoles don’t have tons of RAM and CPU power to constantly draw every single leaf and flower petal in the entire map, the extra pretty vegetation only pops up locally in your near-sighted viewpoint. Wow, I can’t even imagine how tedious it must have been to paint grass models, but somebody (::cough:: newbie artist) had to do it.

You, boy, go make lawns. I get the castle.

*All Oblivion images are property of Bethesda Softworks

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